Styling into Spring

When dressing for the season, take a few cues from the runways.

Paris is a long way away. But in the City of Lights (and New York and Milan) at this very moment, hundreds of people are busy sketching, stitching, hemming and dyeing a multitude of garments. These garments are just beginning a long journey from the runway and the pages of Vogue to upscale department stores like Nordstrom until they inspire the window displays at H&M and the eager customers in line at the cash register.

And that’s the wonderful thing about fashion. Designers like Marc Jacobs or Karl Lagerfeld, who helms Fendi and Chanel as well as an eponymous line, have a hugely influential power to determine what the world will be wearing. Their influence extends to everything from color to sleeve style to skirt length, and it all travels down the fashion chain.

How does the fashion chain work, you may wonder? How can something created nearly a year in advance of when it’s destined to be a trend come all the way from Paris runways to every John and Jane in America?

Those in the know call it the trickle-down effect, a phenomenon that begins with a product being accessible to only the wealthy. Eventually, though, very similar products become widely available at a variety of prices.

“It is now expected that what we see on the pages of Vogue will be translated quickly into affordable fashions at mass retailers,” says Joyce Heckman, graduate instructor at the University’s department of design, housing and apparel. “Retailers are making efforts to present fashion-forward styles at low prices.”

In particular, stores like Gap and Target are particularly adept at adapting these often unattainable designs shown in Vogue and creating items both you and your 50-year-old mother (or father!) can wear, albeit styled differently. Fabrics will change during the trickle down and details will be modified for wearability, but the proverbial song remains the same. What’s showing in the window of your favorite store has gone through a few metamorphoses to find itself in your shopping bag.

When considering how to adapt your favorite runway styles to something that you’d want to wear to a midafternoon psychology lecture, it’s all about studying the concept. So Balenciaga was showing structured floral mini dresses with a stiff cap-sleeve and knee-high, intricately detailed gladiator boots. It’s stunning, clearly the result of much careful consideration and the brainchild of hyper-talented sartorial genius Nicolas Ghesquière and your favorite look of the season.

However, those killer boots can be yours only if you’re Mary-Kate Olsen, and the mini dress is better left on the Amazonian model and her endless legs. But take a look around; there are floral dresses popping up all over, from chains like Urban Outfitters to local boutiques like Covered, Design Collective and Cliché, and the gladiator boots are easily modified into a cute flat sandal from Target. It’s all about modifying the key elements and making them your own.

Fashion is never found right off the rack; it’s all in the way you put it together. We here at A&E, with a little help from our fashion-conscious friends, extend our helping hand. We’ve taken our favorite spring runway trends and tweaked them at their seams to bring the pages of Vogue to the sidewalks of Minneapolis.

Several pieces are classic items that will endure for years in your closet, while others satisfy our very American demand for “fast fashion.” Mix these with items currently dwelling in your wardrobe and look at you, trendsetter!

“Florals, for spring? Groundbreaking!”
-Miranda Priestly, “The Devil Wears Prada”

As the old adage goes: “April showers bring May flowers,” and if you ask us, this is certainly true. Floral patterns dominated the runways at Balenciaga, Gucci, and Carolina Herrera. Of course, no one wants to go out looking like Grandma’s wallpaper, so we’ve taken this sweet, gauzy blue dress and added a cropped black jacket to give it a youthful, downtown edge.

Oui, oui, oui!

It’s unfortunate that men’s ready-to-wear designs aren’t given the attention they deserve in print, for many talented designers such as Hedi Slimane, who helms Dior Homme, and Thom Browne are bringing traditional menswear into a new frontier. We’d hate to leave out our male readership, and have found the perfect lightweight jacket to suit your more masculine spring needs during those pesky April showers. If you’re a guy in need of a great outfit, look no further; we’ve kept the tailored aspect of Hedi Slimane and kept our color palette within the popular confines of dark neutrals. Simple, but très stylish, no?

Bohemian rhapsody

Sashaying down runways from New York to Milan was a revival of bohemian-influenced fashion, a look cycling in popularity every few years. Think gauzy, printed, airy – not peace signs. We love this rough-hewn top from local designer Karmandi, available at Lyndale boutique Cliché, and paired it with psychedelic paisley shorts from Old Navy. As the look is retro-inspired, never costumey, a cropped navy blazer (always a classic) from Gap and architecturally inspired wedges (very Chloe) from Minnesota’s own retail superpower, Target, do the trick to balance. It’s best to keep a seasonal trend to one or two standout pieces, not an entire outfit.

Another way to adapt the “peace and love” mantra of Prada, Roberto Cavalli and Nina Ricci to your personal style is just as casual and just as chic but more 1970s-inspired. Though the skinny jean retains its popularity, the return to volume is a welcome change for spring, and these J Brand bell-bottoms (as seen on Kate Moss) are perfection.

Urban excursions

We loved the safari vibe of Proenza Schouler and Oscar de la Renta and the bright pops of dramatic color at Versace and Ralph Lauren and as it just so happens these make a very lovely combination. And since spring often brings with it weddings, graduations and other such occasions where dressing up is de rigueur, this timeless bright tangerine coat and printed brown dress make an elegant, but still very young, outfit for any refined situation.

A look better suited to a sunny spring Tuesday is created by pairing a picture-perfect tunic with coordinating cargo shorts and earth-toned heels.

The ‘art’ of dress

Art majors rejoice, for spring is certainly your lucky season. Paint-splattered ensembles like those at Yves Saint Laurent and Dolce and Gabbana, and art-inspired interpretations from Marc Jacobs dominate the pages of fashion magazines. Our take mimics the brushstroke detailing seen on their garments. Plus, the skirt’s vivid pink color just so happens to be one of spring’s most pivotal shades, if you’re one to believe Hermès and the window displays of Neiman Marcus, which we surely are.

Special thanks to Cliché boutique and models Chelsea Jasin, Kristopher Jobe, and Brittani Lepley